Reviewed by Vicki
TITLE: Bad Things
AUTHOR: Varian Krylov
PUBLISHER: Self Published
LENGTH: 410 pages
More than his hulking, tattooed body, it’s his predator’s gaze that makes people feel vulnerable, as if he had the power to read their thoughts and see their soul. For his lovers, it’s Xavier’s ravenous appetite for all things carnal—for the taste of flesh under his tongue and the feel of a trembling body under his control, for whispered pleas and muffled cries—that makes him dangerous.
But recently, driven by a festering rage against the men who attacked his sister a decade ago, Xavier has developed a taste for a different kind of hunt and conquest: stalking men who do truly bad things and punishing the predators he sniffs out. The problem with vigilante justice, though, is sometimes the man in your trap is innocent.
Carson suspects he’s playing a risky game with dangerous men. But the lies are convincing, especially when they’re slipped to him among hundred dollar bills. He never guessed how big and dark the secret hidden under all the lies and money could be. And he has no idea he’s not the predator, but the prey, until it’s too late.
And you can’t beg for mercy when there’s a gag in your mouth.
But when Carson escapes from Xavier’s trap, he’s forced to accept that Xavier is far from his most dangerous enemy. Xavier may even hold the key to overcoming the painful past that has kept Carson prisoner for almost two decades.
Wow! What a dark and fantastic book! I loved the contrast between the two characters…
Xavier is such a big bad-ass, tall, broad, obsessively fit, tattooed, and scary. He’s a predator and a protector. He has done some Very Bad Things. This story picks up ten years after Xavier’s sister Elena was gang raped at college, obviously damaging her mentally, but Xavier as well. This seems to be what has started him down this path of retribution. He’s taken his revenge on a few bad guys, and feels it has made him a bad guy himself. Elena works for the FBI now and Xavier finds out about a sex trafficking ring that the FBI is trying to take down but isn’t having any luck. He sneaks in to Elena’s computer and learns about a BDSM club that appears to be the front for the operation. He interviews and gets himself a job there, thinking he can infiltrate and find out what’s going on.
Carson is the total opposite. Innocent, and sheltered, he’s s photographer by choice, a bartender by necessity. He’s got some shitty parental issues in his past and could not be farther in the closet if he tried. He is the bartender at an odd gentleman’s club, just minding his own business when he gets sucked in a bit deeper that he probably should be. He sees Xavier come in to work, and recognized that he feels some attraction, but doesn’t know how to deal with it. Then he is asked/forced to spy on the man…
So this plot on one hand is pretty basic. Bad guys do bad shit, Xavier tries to stop them. But there is this whole underlying BDSM thing that Xavier has going on, and Carson gets caught in his trap. I still can’t decide if what he did to Carson was consensual, and helpful, or downright nasty. Then there is a section in the middle where Carson ends up at Xavier’s ex-lovers house, and learns about gentle sex from Dario and Aidan. These two appear to be from Varian’s other book, Dangerously Happy. I didn’t realize this book was a sequel. I don’t think I missed much that affected my understanding of Bad Things, but I wish I had read Dangerously Happy first. Xavier vanishes for a while, Carson learns how to have non-Xavier sex, then we move on. There is lots of sex in this book, Xavier and Carson, Xavier and a cop, Carson, Dario, and Aidan, more Xavier and Carson…. Some of it is nice and sweet, some of it is dark and nasty. But even the dark and nasty was appealing in it’s own way. But be warned, a bit of what Xavier does to Carson is not exactly consensual. It’s that fine line.
The plot is interesting, the whole human trafficking story line is relevant and scary. The development of the relationship between Xavier and Carson is great. I’m not sure I’d call it a romance, no flowers, no dates, nothing like that. Some fairly nonconsensual stuff happens, then they part for a while, then they reunite and have more sex. Words are finally exchanged that have some meaning toward the end of the book, and Xavier really helps Carson deal with his parental shit. Carson also helps Xavier with his anger management issues. It’s a very intense relationship they have, both are pretty screwed up in their own way. Carson is scared of Xavier, rightly so, for quite a big part of the story. I wasn’t really convinced they would, or even should be together. It’s pretty dark and messed up for a while. But it does have a great ending. I loved the contrast between the two men, what they each bring to the party, and I loved the influence of Dario and Aidan on Carson. Xavier’s sister pops in and out, helping and harming. Big shit happens, it was just an amazing story. I haven’t read anything by Varian Krylov before, but I certainly will now. Dangerously Happy is on the top of my TBR list!